Movie review by
M. Faust, Common Sense Media
Duets Movie Poster Image
A not very good adult movie about adult issues.
  • R
  • 2001
  • 112 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The sole black character is a convict.


Two gunfights, one in a convenience store and one involving the police. Some blood is shown. The shootout in which Reggie is killed is scary.


Ricky is briefly seen having sex with a woman he met at a bar. Some bare breasts. Suzi barters sexual favors for whatever she needs (and is briefly glimpsed getting dressed). Billy catches his wife in bed with his partner.


A range of expletives are lightly sprinkled in various conversations.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Todd--in the midst of what may not be clear to young viewers is a nervous breakdown--goes on a driving spree fueled by pills and beer.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the shootout in which Reggie is killed could scare some kids. There are two gunfights, one in a convenience store and one involving the police. Some blood is shown. Also, there is female nudity and many sexual situations.

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What's the story?

DUETS is an ensemble comedy-drama about six characters whose lives intersect thanks to a karaokie competition in Omaha. Ricky Dean (Huey Lewis) is a karaoke hustler who reconnects with his daughter, Liv (Gwyneth Paltrow), during a detour for a friend's funeral. Todd (Paul Giamatti) is a salesman growing increasingly frustrated with the ugliness of both his environment-destroying job and the America of fast food and look-alike hotels he lives in; Reggie (Andre Braugher) is an con who wants to keep Todd from getting too deep into the dark side. And Suzi (Maria Bello) is a waitress who talks cab driver Billy (Scott Speedman) into giving her a ride to the big event.

Is it any good?

The oddness of the characters and the silliness of some of the karaoke performances will appeal to some teens, but in general this is an adult movie about adult issues. Although Duets was promoted as a Paltrow vehicle, the Oscar winner has one of the movie's smaller (and least-developed) parts. As a slightly wacky young woman determined to get to know her father, Liv probably looked better on paper than she plays in the finished movie, which was directed by her father, Bruce Paltrow. The conflict between Liv and Ricky is resolved too neatly and unbelievably.

Likewise, the relationship between Billy and Suzi, who turns out to be not as confident as she acts, is thinly written. The best story is Todd's; Giamatti provides Duets' best and funniest moments. Braugher is also very good as Reggie, though his death is an unnecessarily melodramatic conclusion to this mostly lightweight movie.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about father-daughter relationships. Why are many so strained?

Movie details

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